Taking place in a former waiting room for the Folkestone ferry, SEeAFAR features six artists – Foa + Hosea, Carali McCall, Anne Robinson, Sarah Sparkes, Thurle Wright – whose work manifests absence. Through drawing, painting, installation, performance and moving image, these artworks recall the perspective of generations of women living in a state of unknowing as they wait for news or the return of loved ones from overseas and explore the tensions between anticipation and memory, separation and speculation.
Dans Ma Cellule, Une Silhouette, 1st February – 20th April 2014, Centre d’Art Contemporain, La Ferme du Buisson, Noisiel, Paris
Maryclare Foá and myself were commissioned to create a new piece of work for this exhibition inspired by the legend of the first drawing told by Pliny the Elder. In this apocryphal tale a Corinthian maiden, whose name is not recorded, traces a line on the wall around the shadow of her lover as he is about to depart. Her father, Butades, a potter, fills the outline with clay and fires it in his kiln.
This action of Butades’s daughter, in which she attempts to freeze time and contain presence, is seen by many art historians as the foundational act of Western painting and drawing.
This exhibition curated by Lore Gablier for La Ferme du Buisson features the work of different artists who use drawing to investigate the visualisation of absence, loss and desire. Artists included are: William Anastasi / Abdelkader Benchamma / Mathieu Bonardet / Geta Brătescu / Maryclare Foá & Birgitta Hosea (Performance Drawing Collective) / Jean Genet / Dennis Oppenheim / Santiago Reyes / Till Roeskens / Carla Zaccagnini.
Here is the English translation of the text by curator Lore Gablier about the exhibition:
I have the shape of a dead man on the wall of my cell. He’s been in his grave almost five years now, yet his shadow still lingers. He was no one and nothing. All that remains of him is a handful of old rape charges and a man-shaped pencil sketch. Perhaps it’s just superstition, but I can‘t help but feel that erasing it would be like erasing the fact that he ever existed. That may not be such a bad thing, all things considered, but I won’t be the one to do it.
– Damien Echols, Life After Death
(Damien Echols was sentenced to death by the state of Arkansas in 1994 after being wrongly convicted of murder at the age of 19. He was released from prison in 2011)
Offering an exploration of drawing in its relation to gesture and the body, the exposition Dans ma cellule, une silhouette turns to the story of the daughter of the Corinthian potter Butades who, before her lover left on a long journey, “drew an outline of the shadow of his face as cast by the light of a lamp.” If this seminal act, as told by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, has come to be considered as an allegory for the origin of drawing and painting, it is, at the same time, an invitation to renew our relation with the visible.
Through her act, the young woman refers us to that which remains invisible in the visible in this instance her desire, which cannot reconcile itself in the image. What we see is, as such, always inhabited by the absence of what we cannot see, an absence that not only structures our vision, but also allows the advent of a potentiality or, as Jean-Luc Nancy explains, “the indeterminate possibility of the possible as such, a potentiality of being [pouvoir Ítre] that is not the abstract form of a being that remains to be embodied, but is rather itself a modality and a consistence of being: a being of power [Ítre de pouvoir], the reality of momentum, of birth and beginning.”
Freed from the gaze and returned to a physical act, drawing opens up a multiplicity of forms and potentialities, as the works brought together for this exhibition testify. Drawing becomes alternately the inscription of a gesture, a repeated action or constraint, a narrative support, the means of a tactile exchange, the boundary of a theatrical space. Or else, drawing hallows itself out, empties itself, by erasure, comes to life. In each case what drawing reveals is the body itself: a body that lends itself less to being active, efficient or operative, than it does to a momentum through which it releases its sensuality.
Birgitta Hosea setting up the work with the help of Anne Pietsch, Lore Gablier and the technical staff at La Ferme du Buisson.
Just as Butades’s daughter traced the outline of her lover before he left on a journey, so we (Foá & Hosea), following the same method, tracing round the shadows of our bodies cast by the electrical light onto the paper surface, attempt to hold time by fixing our shapes in place.
The multiple lines in this Traion (trace of presence in motion) also attempt to hold motion while leading into the gestured animated outlines of our digital shadows.
Don’t miss the last chance to see William’s Kentridge’s atmospheric and evocative, multi-screen installation, I Am Not Me, The Horse is Not Mine (2008) in the Tate Modern Tanks. It finishes on Sunday 20th January.
The title of the piece is inspired by a Russian peasant saying that is used to deny guilt. In Kentridge’s talk about the work on 11/11/12, he related how the animations were created as part of the research process he undertook whilst working on a production of Dmitri Schostakovich’s opera, The Nose, from 1928. This satirical opera is based on Nikolai Gogol’s short story from 1837. Inspired by DADA and a long tradition of the absurd, which Kentridge traces back to Cervantes novel Don Quixote, it did not go down well with the Russian authorities who, according to Kentridge, referred to it as ‘a muddle not music’. Here is a clip with more information about the production.
As Kentridge worked in his studio to develop the production, many eclectic ideas came together for him: the history of the absurd in literature; the Soviet purges of intellectuals; the disembodied nose with a life of its own; the artist’s disembodied sense of judgement in inner dialogue with his intuitive approach to making work; the reconstruction of a coherent self from multiple fractured pieces; Modernism and collage; how we make knowledge from fragments; the amount of visual clues needed before we can recognise a fragment of black paper as a horse; the fragmented nature of the world; his own native South Africa and the fractured gap between the promise of enlightenment which underlies colonialism and the violence, brutality and exploitation that underlies it. It is all of these raw materials and more that have been brought together in the collection of animations that play across the screens in the Tanks.
For Kentridge, the artist’s process of bringing together multiple complex ideas is a metaphor for how we make sense of things. Looking at what is in effect his research and development work, we are presented with a state of becoming, an idea taking shape, but not yet fixed.
Medium, a living picture in which I take the role of a techno-medium, channel digital doubles and emanate electronic ectoplasm, will be performed again at two different events in December 2012:
- Saturday 1st December, Exploding Cinema @ Besides the Screen, St James Hatcham, Goldsmiths College, St. James’s, New Cross, SE14 6AD. This event is on from 6.30-11pm. I will be performing live from 7-9pm. Tickets are £5.
- December 6th 7th & 8th, GHost IV: Presence and Absence – Haunted Landscapes and Manifesting Ghosts, St. John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA (next to Bethnal Green tube).
Times – December 6th 6.00pm – 9.00pm (I will perform live 6-8pm),
December 7th 6.00pm – 10.00pm (I will perform live 6-8pm),
December 8th 2.30pm – 7.30pm (I will perform live 6-7pm).
This event is free.
“The cinema is the art of ghosts, a battle of phantoms… it’s the art of allowing ghosts to come back.” Jacques Derrida
Inspired by Victorian spirit photographs, this tableau vivant explores the act of mediation that is involved in the digital image making process. Taking the role of a techno-medium, I channel messages from film and radio through my multiple digital doubles and live projections of automatic writing, electronic ectoplasmic drawing and animation in an examination of the connections between a medium, such as film or digital code, through which a message is encoded, stored and transmitted and the psychic medium, a person who transmits messages from the spirit world.
Photos typical of the materialising mediums who inspired this work:
Medium by Birgitta Hosea,
Shown as part of the Dickensian Hauntings Illumini Event,
27th September – 4th October 2012.
Open daily from 11-7pm (free).
Opening Night on Thursday 27th September from 6pm – 10pm
Late Night Openings: Sat 29th Sept & Thurs 4th Oct till 10pm
At Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT
Medium will be performed live at the following times (a video installation will play at all other times.):
Thursday 27th: 6-6.45, 7-7.45, 8-8.45
Saturday 29th: 6-6.45, 8-8.45
Saturday 29th: 7.30-7.45 Artist’s talk in which I will show examples of the original Victorian spirit photographs that inspired the project.
Thursday 4th: 6-6.45, 7-7.45
Preview presentation at Hostings 9: Presence – ghost-makers 2
Wednesday September 26thth at 6.30pm – 9.00pm
The Hostings are a night of presentations and performances exploring the desire to materialise what is absent by manifesting ghosts.
At this event, I will present the research into Victorian spirit photography and materialising mediums that inspired the work.
The talks are FREE but please email:
to reserve your seats.
Venue: The Senate Room, First Floor, South Block, University of London, WC1E 7HU (An apparition known as ‘The Blue Lady’ has been reported to haunt the Senate room)
Hostings 9 Programme
Birgitta Hosea: Medium
Rosie Ward: Artful Hauntings: How Artistic Intuition can Create New memories within Landscape
Guy Edmonds: Seancé du Cinema – A synthesis of domestic resurrection media
GHost is a visual arts and creative research project which brings together artists, writers, academics, scientists, curators, researchers and others for workshops, so-called Hostings and exhibitions and screenings of moving image art. The Hostings have been taking place in the “haunted” rooms at Senate House, University of London and the exhibition have been hosted annually by St Johns on Bethnal Green and also by The London Art Fair and Folkestone Triennial.
More information: www.host-a-ghost.blogspot.com
Derrida interviewed in Ghost Dance (dir. Ken McMullen, 1983, UK / West Germany, Channel 4 Films):
Swedish sculptor Nathalie Djurberg’s installation A World of Glass is on at the Camden Arts Centre until 8th January 2012. In this installation her disturbing stop motion animations play at either end of a room filled with glass: the translucency of this material echoing the translucency of projected light and yet contrasting with the fleshy, sinister quality of her claymations.
Here is an interview with Nathalie and her composer Hans Berg about the work.
Mat Collishaw’s show Shooting Stars at the Haunch of Venison in 2008 explored the legacy of Victorian imaging technology in our parallel era of rapid technological development. The most powerful presence in the show was Collishaw’s contemporary zoetrope, Throbbing Gristle, featuring small characters created through rapid prototyping that appeared to come to life under the flickering lights of the gallery.
I first became aware of the work of Tabaimo after her Boundary Layer exhibition at the Parasol Unit last year. In her work, unsettling animations are projected across several walls or custom-built spaces to form a continuous image. Tabaimo’s installations uncover the shadow image of conventional domesticity, such as Japanese Kitchen, 1999, or public spaces such as toilets, public conVENience, 2006. Here is an interview with her from the Moderna Museet in Stockholm: